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Rip Rig + Panic

Even during the eclectic 80s, it’s hard to imagine a major label having pursued a band that never rehearsed, boasted no discernible frontman and named themselves after a 1965 LP by jazz saxophonist Roland Kirk.

Yet, in 1981, such a chase ensued, ending with Virgin signing Bristol-birthed, London-based avant-pop collective Rip Rig + Panic, featuring Gareth Sager and Bruce Smith from recently deceased post-punk quintet The Pop Group.

To their credit, Richard Branson and co largely indulged the band’s whims and released their surreal but playful debut album God on chart-defying 45rpm double-LP format, regardless of financial return.

The equally feverish but rather more structured follow-up, I Am Cold (1982), however, locked horns with the Top 40 on the back of two funky Neneh Cherry-fronted 45s, Storm The Reality Asylum and You’re My Kind Of Climate: the latter even winning the band a slot on popular BBC sitcom The Young Ones.

The group persevered into 1983, bequeathing an underwhelming third LP, Attitude, before Smith, Cherry and bassist Sean Oliver briefly regrouped as Float Up CP, delivering the underrated, if more commercially flavoured, Kill Me In The Morning for Rough Trade.

Neneh Cherry
Andrea Oliver
Gareth Sager
Guitar, saxophone, keyboards, vocals
Sean Oliver
Mark Springer
Piano, saxophone, vocals
David De Fries
Bruce Smith